New bar association head vows an overhaulA day after he was elected as the new president of the Korean Bar Association, attorney Ha Chang-woo, 60, vowed Tuesday to bring about judicial reforms, criticizing Korea’s top court.
“There are many problems within the Supreme Court, and the abuse of prosecutors’ right of indictment is serious as well,” Ha said, raising ongoing issues in the legal sector during a press conference at the association’s office in Gangnam District, southern Seoul.
Ha was elected as the 48th president of the bar association on Monday, beating out three other candidates. He will serve a two-year term that begins Feb. 23, and will be charged with overseeing some 15,000 attorneys nationwide.
This was his third presidential bid.
Like his predecessor, We Chul-whan, Ha has never worked as a judge or a prosecutor but he does have a legal background.
“The Supreme Court must gain the people’s trust,” said Ha, who previously served as the president of the Seoul Bar Association from 2007 to 2009. “I will set judicial reforms as the starting point.
“While the Supreme Court purports that its members are diverse, all 14 justices have backgrounds as judges,” he said, adding that there needs to be diversity not only in the schools and regions that justices originate, but in their occupations and specialties.
“Someone without a governmental background should go to the Supreme Court and be a spokesman that can relay the different voices of the people,” he said.
Ha also came down hard on prosecutors.
“Prosecutors’ abuse of their right to indictment is serious, but we are considering many methods to counter this issue.”
One solution would be to evaluate prosecutors, by which lawyers assess prosecutors and review their performance.
A similar check is currently enforced by the Seoul Bar Association to evaluate judicial officials, a system Ha said could serve as the benchmark.
“By keeping the prosecution in check through evaluations, the rights of the people can be guaranteed,” he said, pledging to “make a bar association that can gain the trust of the people.”
Ha graduated from Seoul National University with a degree in law and previously served as the spokesman of the bar association. He also served as a policy adviser to the Ministry of Justice and ran his own legal office.
BY NOH JIN-HO, SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]